Finding it hard to work and study from home?
Sue Dodsworth – Graduate Practitioner
As New Zealand’s management of COVID 19 continues, no one knows how much longer we will need to be working and studying from home.
If you are finding it hard to stay on track then some of these tips may help:
Tip 1: Set realistic expectations
Be realistic about how much you can get done in a day, especially if you are sharing childcare. Maybe work a little earlier or later in the day to share the load and let your colleagues know. Nigel Latta and Dr. Natalie Flynn give some tips in this short video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2553275794778484
Tip 2: Make a daily To-do list and prioritize it
Having a plan to work to promotes effective time management and improves productivity.
Prioritizing tasks identifies the ones that need to be done first and time is not lost on tasks of lesser importance. Remember to break up bigger tasks into smaller more specific ones as this makes it easier to stay on track.
Tip 3: Develop routines to start and stop your day
When we usually get ready for work we have a set routine that we go through. Now we are working and studying from home it is important to find new routines to get us in the right frame of mind for the day ahead and delineate home life from work/study life.
This could include having your morning coffee, going for a short local walk or even making that to-do list.
Although you may choose not to dress as formally as normal, it is important to dress presentably. Research shows this can affect how we view our own productivity, competence and creativity.
Remember to have a proper end time and shut down routine too, as it is easy to blur the lines between work/study and home balance, and this can lead to burnout.
Tip 4: Take regular breaks
Incorporating regular breaks into your work /study schedule is important as it improves productivity, performance and mental wellbeing. Remember to use these breaks to move and have a stretch!
- Set the timer on your phone or use the Pomodoro Technique, which involves 25 minutes of work with a 5-minute break. You can read more about it and apps to help here: https://medium.com/…/best-productivity-app-pomodoro-focus-h…
- Taking regular breaks reduces the risk of eyestrain. Research shows that prolonged computer use can lead to visual problems such as eye strain, dry eyes and blurred vision. Why not try out the 20-20-20 rule where you look away from your screen every 20 minutes at something that is approximately 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Tip 5: Eat and sleep well
- Make sure you include fresh fruit and veg (remember the concept of a rainbow plate), quality sources of protein and fats and low GI carbohydrates.
- Make sure you keep on top of your sleep hygiene (routines and practices) and get a good night’s sleep.
Tip 6: Watch out for Distractions
It’s all too easy to lose track of time while you ‘quickly‘ check your emails and social media. Try putting your phone on airplane mode and disabling notifications on your laptop whilst you are working.
- To find out how much time you spend on your Facebook mobile app, tap the three horizontal lines on the top right > Settings & Privacy > Your Time on Facebook
- For Instagram, go to Your Account > tap the three horizontal lines on the top right > Your Activity
- Want to know about distraction blocking apps, you can find more here: https://download.cnet.com/…/best-time-well-spent-apps-to-h…/
Tip 7: Make sure your workspace is set up following good ergonomic principles
Make sure your seat is comfortable and at the right height for you to work at your laptop/keyboard on. This stops you from hunching over the screen and straining your neck and back. Think about maintaining a neutral posture with your keyboard at a height so you can type with your upper arms close by your side and your elbows at around a 90-degree angle and your feet resting comfortably either on the floor or a footrest.
You can find out more information at:
Tip 8: Stay connected
Working from home can lead to feeling isolated and ‘out of the loop’ so it is important to stay connected with your work colleagues or fellow students. Staying connected improves accountability and motivation, so make sure you check in with your colleagues regularly – maybe even plan a virtual coffee or lunch break with them.
Al Tawil, L., Aldokhayel, S., Zeitouni, L., Qadoumi, T., Hussein, S., & Ahamed, S. S. (2020). Prevalence of self-reported computer vision syndrome symptoms and its associated factors among university students. European journal of ophthalmology, 30(1), 189- 195. https://doi.org/10.1177/1120672118815110
Ariga, A., & Lleras, A. (2011). Brief and rare mental “breaks” keep you focused: Deactivation and reactivation of task goals preempt vigilance decrements. Cognition, 118(3), 439– 443. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2010.12.007
Blasche, G., Pasalic, S., Bauböck, V.-M., Haluza, D., & Schoberberger, R. (2016). Effects of rest-break intention on rest-break frequency and work-related fatigue. Human factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 59(2), 289– 98. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018720816671605
Bloom, N., Liang, J., Roberts, J., & Ying, Z. J. (2015). Does working from home work? Evidence from a Chinese experiment. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 130(1), 165-218. http://doi.org/10.3386/w18871
Cronkleton, E. (2020, April 1). 26 WFH tips while self-isolating during the COVID-19 outbreak. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/working-from-home-tips#takeaway
Feng, J. (n.d.). An evaluation of the Pomodoro Technique for stopping procrastination and behaviour change. School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/66f9/70799fc6a505696a2f657ef3106427a8ee37.pdf
Free-photos. (2016). Office-work studying-office-working. [Photo].Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/photos/office-work-studying-office-working-1149087/
Glaveski, S. (2020, March 14). 13 tips to crush working from home during COVID-19. Medium.com. https://medium.com/@SteveGlaveski/13-tips-to-crush-working-from-home-during-covid-19-fa82cf86597f
Glenn Dutcher, E. (2012). The effects of telecommuting on productivity: An experimental examination. The role of dull and creative tasks. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 84(1), 355–363. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2012.04.009
Government of Alberta. (2019). Proper sitting posture for typing. https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/Pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=hw200906
Gowrisankaran, S., & Sheedy, J. E. (2015). Computer vision syndrome: A review. Work, 52(2), 303–314. https://doi.org/doi:10.3233/wor-152162
Karl, K. A., Hall, L. M., & Peluchette, J. V. (2013). City employee perceptions of the impact of dress and appearance. Public Personnel Management, 42(3), 452– 470. https://doi.org/10.1177/0091026013495772
Kim, Y. J., & Zhong, C. B. (2017). Ideas rise from chaos: Information structure and creativity. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 138, 15-27. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2016.10.001
National Institute of Health. (2017).Computer workstation ergonomics: Self-assessment checklist. https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/sr/dohs/Documents/Computer%20Workstation%20Ergonomics%20Self%20Assessment%20Checklist.pdf
Office of Industrial Relations. (2012). Ergonomic guide to computer based workstations. https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/83067/guide-ergo- comp-workstations.pdf
Oppezzo, M., & Schwartz, D. L. (2014). Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking. Journal of experimental psychology: learning, memory, and cognition, 40(4), 1142. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036577
Scholz, A., Wendsche, J., Ghadiri, A., Singh, U., Peters, T., & Schneider, S. (2019). Methods in experimental work break research: A scoping review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(20), 3844. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16203844
Selig, M. (2017, April 18). How do work breaks help your brain? 5 surprising answers. Psychology today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/nz/blog/changepower/201704/how-do-work- breaks-help-your-brain-5-surprising-answers
Tyler, J. M., & Burns, K. C. (2008). After depletion: The replenishment of the self’s regulatory resources. Self and Identity, 7(3), 305– 321. https://doi.org/10.1080/15298860701799997
Wang, X., Gobbo, F., & Lane, M. (2010). Turning time from enemy into an ally using the pomodoro technique. agility across time and space, 149– 166. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-12442-6_10
Worksafe New Zealand. (n.d.). Ergonomics. https://worksafe.govt.nz/topic-and-industry/work-related-health/ergonomics/